Lisa Heathfield is an author that seems to have passed me by. None of her books have instantly stood out to me and i’ve never bought one before. That was until Charlotte from Wonderfully Bookish told me to read Paper Butterflies, and then very quickly afterwards told me to read Fight Of A Starling. I bought myself a copy of Flight Of A Starling going in a little blind, i had very little idea of the story, and wasn’t overly intrigued. Does anyone else ever find their favourite books that way?
Title: Fight Of A Starling
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication date: 29th June 2017
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Summary: Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.
Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?
There seems to be a very big circus book theme going around YA at the moment. I’m not complaining, as circus themed books generally have some of the best story-lines in my opinion. However, when i picked up this one i felt a little deflated by the very cliched story-line. Was i wrong? I was wrong.
It took me a little while to get in to this book, i think the start may be a little slow as they build up the circus family and the outside relationships, however once you get in to it you can read the rest in an hour. The last 100 pages go by so quickly it feels like some outer-body reading experience.
The thought process behind the characters and relationship in Flight of a Starling are nothing short of stunning. Our main character Lo has lived in the circus her whole life, that’s until she meets Dean, a Flattie who lives at one of their roaming stops. Once Dean was introduced i feared we’d lose all the relationship build up of the circus team and the book would become heavily based upon their relationship. Yes their relationship is in the novel, however i realised towards the end that the story is much more about relationships with everyone and how you effect everyones life around you. It had very little romance in it and Dean was used as a tool to show how Lo interacted with her sister, parents and friends instead. It felt very clever and was very well executed.
For a book that is based in a circus, there was very little mention of the actual circus. The occasional scene in which a trick or show was described gave enough thrill to remind us of the setting. However, the story is based upon the characters and who they are. It’s not a wonderfully diverse book, you wouldn’t recommend it as that. But there is enough difference in each character to make them interesting and unique.
Similarly, the writing of this story was stunning. For such a heavy book that discusses a lot of important topics and has heavy themes, it was written beautifully. The themes brought up are so very important to society today, and without a doubt everyone will find themselves in one of the characters or situations in the story.
I cannot wait to pick up more of Lisa Heathfield’s work, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet her at YALC this year. She will definitely become an auto-buy author.